What Mistakes should I avoid when buying an offset smoker?

You are ready to buy your first offset smoker. You’ve read about them, done some research on the Internet, you know what size you would like and where to get it at the best price, but there is one thing still bothering you…

What mistakes should I avoid when buying an offset smoker?

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when buying their first or next offset smoker:

1) Not doing enough research before you buy

It’s tempting to think that all the best offset smokers look alike so why bother reading about them right? Wrong! You can save a lot of headaches by spending time learning what makes each one different and how they work. The more information you have ahead of time, the easier it will be for you to make the right choice.

2) Being distracted by appearances and features

I see people pick up a particular model because it has nice looking chrome wheels, only to realize after buying it that they can’t control how high or low the temp is on their new toy. Always remember; looks are only skin deep but performance goes all the way through!

Also, pay attention to things like door latches and seals (are they tight?), dampers (do they move easily?), vents (are there easy clean out options?) etc. These features may seem unimportant now but you will be glad you paid attention if/when they fail you in the future.

3) Not knowing what you want until its too late

¬†This is by far the most common mistake I see people make. People come into my store all the time thinking they want a particular model, but when I give them the information about it they are disappointed because it doesn’t have some of the options or features that are important to them. The result is either frustration at not being able to find what they are looking for or getting something that will have to be upgraded in order to get the performance and features desired.

The best way avoid this problem?

Know everything you can about offset smokers before you ever step foot into a store so your choices are limited only by your budget!

4) Not trusting yourself

You may have never bought an offset smoker before, but if you take the time to do the research, know what you expect from it and be patient, you will be sure to end up with a smoker that best fits your needs. Trust yourself!

5) Not trusting me

I deal with this one all the time. Someone comes into my store wanting to buy an offset smoker but they can’t make up their mind or they are too afraid to commit without asking for my opinion first.

Nine times out of ten whoever is helping them ends up having to sell them on something totally different than what they were originally looking at because they don’t have enough information about how offsets really work or what makes one different from another. This is frustrating for both me and the customer, so I recommend trying your best not to fall into this trap.

6) Not checking the warranty

This mistake is more common than you might think and can be a real headache if it costs you more in the long run: People come into my store looking for a certain offset smoker, but when I explain what they get with their new purchase they don’t like the fact that we won’t fix it for them under warranty if something goes wrong. If you value your time, check to see who will or won’t cover repairs before buying your offset smoker.

7) Failing to consider the cost of fuel

Some offsets use charcoal/wood while others use propane gas. The best way to determine which one is right for you is by estimating how much fuel you plan to use. If you are not sure how much it will cost, ask your local propane dealer for estimated fuel prices in your area.

8) Not asking about delivery

When buying an offset smoker always ask if there is a fee to have the smoker delivered. Most places won’t tell you this up front but after they convince you that whatever model you are looking at is best for you, they will hit you with the “delivery costs” without batting an eye. Don’t forget that running an offset smoker requires hand pumping water into it, so don’t be surprised when they try to charge extra for this too!

Also, check ahead of time what kind of warranty their delivery service has and if there is any type of deductible. If the delivery crew damages your smoker while bringing it to you, can they cover it under warranty?

9) Not realizing that some offsets are actually smokers and grills combined

(This mistake was edited in after the original post.) Just like many of you, I get frustrated when people try to tell me what an offset is best for before getting all the necessary information first. An offset works best for low and slow cooking, but not all offsets are created equal! Check with whoever is helping you before making a final decision on what type of smoker best suits your needs.  (Thank you BBQ Man!)

10) Trusting anyone who says “I have one just like that at home”

Once again, this problem is mainly due to people not knowing what they are talking about before buying.

For example, when someone tells me this, I assume they have a WSM or Weber kettle with the “Smokey Joe” expanded aluminum charcoal basket attached to it and they want an offset because it will work better for them than something like that would.

When you buy an offset smoker you get a totally different kind of cooker; one that is best used for low and slow cooking and smoking multiple large pieces of meat at once (instead of grilling).

Trust me: If you don’t know anything about offsets, then your friend who says he has one at home doesn’t either.

11) Thinking all offsets work the same . This is another common mistake buyers make when they don’t know how offsets really work. It’s best to understand what makes one offset different from the next before you buy. Below is a list of some popular features found on offsets.

– Metal thickness . Thick, 1/4″ metal is best for heat retention and durability. Thin gauge steel will burn through faster than normal, so keep this in mind when buying an offset smoker!      – Rounded or square corners . Square corners are best because it allows you to fire up more coals in your cooker without having them fall out every time you open the firebox door.

– I ntegrated thermometer(s)  or not? thermometers are best if they are built into the smoker and work correctly. Most don’t so buyer beware!

– Hinge or welded firebox opening ? Since you must open the firebox to add fuel, it is best if your offset’s design allows you to simply lift up the front of the firebox instead of having to remove a door entirely.

– Charcoal basket . Having one makes adding fuel easier because all you have to do is dump in more charcoal when needed rather than build another wood/charcoal fire on top of an existing one with no basket.

I hope this list helps anyone who has ever wondered why they keep buying offsets that eventually break down after only a few uses. If you follow these tips then I promise that your next offset purchase will be the best one ever!

Thank you for reading my article on offset smokers. If you enjoyed it, please check out some of my other articles about this awesome type of barbecue smoker.  If you have any best offset smoker tips or suggestions, please comment below!

Nassir Halima
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